August 12, 2015
Permanent Residence vs. Permanent Resident Cards
We often have individuals call our office who are worried that they are about to lose their permanent residence in Canada, because their permanent resident card (PR card) is about to expire. The expiry of a PR card is different than loss of permanent residence.
A PR card is evidence of an individual being a permanent resident of Canada. In conjunction with the individual’s passport, the PR card tells immigration officials at the Canadian ports of entry (i.e., airport, land border, etc.) that the individual is a permanent resident and has a right to enter and remain in Canada.
Permanent residence, on the other hand, is a type of legal status in Canada. An individual loses permanent residence status in Canada, generally, by (1) a decision of an immigration official, if that decision is not appealed (or able to be appealed), (2) by a decision of the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) if the appeal is refused, or (3) by the individual renouncing his or her status.
If an individual’s PR card is about to expire, the individual can make an application for another PR card. Generally each PR card is issued for a period of five years. In determining whether to issue another PR card, an officer will determine whether the individual has complied with their residency. In particular, the officer will assess whether the individual was physically present in Canada for at least 730 days of the last 5 years (or engaging in qualified employment overseas). If the officer is satisfied that the individual has complied, then a new PR card will be issued.
If the officer determines that the individual has not been in Canada for at least 730 days of the last 5 years, the officer may consider whether there are humanitarian and compassionate reasons for the individual’s absence. If the officer is not satisfied, the officer will refuse to issue the PR card and will find the individual non-compliant with section 28 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This finding of non-compliance can be appealed to the IAD, in a “residency appeal”.
It is best to not travel outside of Canada if one’s PR card is expired or about to expire. If an individual is outside of Canada without a valid PR card and is from a country which requires a visa to enter Canada, that individual must apply for a “Travel Document” from the Canadian visa office in order to travel back to Canada. As with the PR card application, if the visa office determines that the individual has not complied with their residency in Canada, the visa office will refuse to issue the Travel Document. This decision may also be appealed to the IAD.
If you think that you may not meet the residency requirements of your permanent resident status, or if you would like assistance renewing your PR card, we are able to help. Click here for more information.